Beltran Masses, Federico

Guira de la Melena, Cuba 1885 - Barcelona 1949
Biography & List of works

Las Ibericas (The Iberian Women)

Medium: Oil on canvas

Size: 160.5 x 180 cm

Signed: lower right: F. Beltran Masses

Provenance:

Estate of the artist; his wife Sra. Irene Narezo de Beltran; her heirs, Barcelona.

Literature:

José Francés,  Madrid, ‘Federico Beltran Masses’, Federico Beltran Masses, Estrella, Madrid, 1920, p.30.

Exhibited:

Wildenstein Galleries, New York, 1924, Room I, no. 3; The Society of the Arts, Whitehall, Palm Beach, 1925; Stendhal Galleries, The Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, 1925, no. 4, with an asking price of US $ 6,500; Federico Beltran Masses: un pintor en la corte de Hollywood, Museu Diocesà, Barcelona, 2011, ills., no. 75, p.143; Galerie Alain Blondel, Paris, 2012. Federico Beltran Masses, Blue Nights and Libertine Legends, Stair Sainty Gallery, London,  Oct-Nov 2012, ills., no. 10, pp.90-91.

Stars that shine in sapphire skies, exotic women with lace mantillas supported by very high combs, women with red lips and jet black eyes….all this sumptuousness made of wunderkind colour, with a subtlety, not shrillness of colour.. it is a delight to experience.[1]

Las Ibericas (women of Iberia), is an evocation of the perfect Spanish woman, here framed between four others in a variety of poses. This beautiful and mysterious woman – the Maja of legend, her face a perfect oval and her lips a deep red – wears a black mantilla and light veil, her multi-coloured costume having a hint of the orient, while a basket of fruit stands before her. At the left, two women wear what seems to be evening dress and are engaged in conversation, perhaps about the mysterious central figure, one of them holding her pearl necklace to her lips. At right another (the artist suggests she is a gypsy, as she holds a guitar) stares challengingly at the viewer, while behind we glimpse the back of a fourth woman turning away in the direction of a distant church, whose head is surmounted by a large fan-shaped mantilla. The work was originally titled Mosaic, as the artist rendered the composition in a flat mosaic of varied coloured forms on a single plain, a modernist approach which particularly distinguishes this painting.  As with so many subject paintings, Beltran Masses does not directly reveal what he intends us to understand from the composition but is deliberately ambiguous, allowing the viewer to interpret the scene in their own way.

 


[1] From the archives of Antonia Salom, as found in Federico Beltran Masses: un pintor en la corte de Hollywood, Museu Diocesà, Barcelona, 2011, p. 147. Translation from the Spanish our own.